Thursday, March 31, 2011

My "not so favorite" time of the year

Tonight I say farewell to my favorite time of the year; the half of the year that I enjoy more than the other half. You see I personally enjoy fall & winter, cooler weather and those things associated with these seasons like football, Christmas and grass not growing. I thrive during this half of the year so tonight I say farewell. See you in about 6 months. With the dawning of April 1st we move into those warmer, muggier months that eventually bring us hotter than you know what weather. And my grass just grows and grows and grows. The humidity can become unbearable. And of course, the summer months bring us a little thing called hurricane season. Don't get me wrong; I love everyday and every season. The imaginery half of the year that I frame from October to March is just my favorite. April does bring us great joy as we will celebrate Easter and the Resurrection. We will journey through the end of Lent first then the beautiful Easter season in the weeks ahead. For me personally, we will celebrate our youngest graduating from college; that will be huge. Just last year we celebrated our son's wedding in May so that will be a nice anniversary for all to remember. The days of April through September do indeed bring many joys and laughter; it's just so darn hot. I wonder what my own favorite half of the year would be if I lived in Green Bay or Maine or somewhere on the upper peninsula of Michigan. But I live here, where winter is short and mild, although we can get that occasional real winter weather. So good bye favorite half; not favorite half I'm ready for ya! But in every season; praise God!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

St. Benjamin; Deacon & Martyr

St. Benjamin Feastday: March 31 424 St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day - March 31) The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it. As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with great fury. The Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures. Among those who suffered was St. Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion. St. Benjamin, however, declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent. Although he had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. He was again apprehended and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony about the year 424.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Church; no matter what, she endures

>>>Another great web post to remind Catholics who have the chicken little syndrome to wise up. Our Church is not dependent on your wishes but God's will! A SERIOUS WARNING to those who judge the Church and its leadership! .by Fr Scott Brossart Solt Judge not, that you may not be judged, For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. If you are personally or are part of a group that is continually going through the weaknesses and faults of the Church and its leaders, and is not totally focused on God Himself and His Glory and the Light that does shine through Her (the Church) I plead with you to turn away from this way which is NOT OF GOD. This fruit is not of God and does not come from God. You can judge a tree by its fruits... does it bring love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruits that are not of God is a spirit that brings disobedience, harbors wrongs, inspires us with disturbance, impatience, and despair, brings bitter zeal and a self-righteous attitude, makes us focus on negativity and discord. You can recognize his guidance by the disquiet and unrest which it brings. It is the devil who scrutinizes wrongs under a magnifying glass and makes us focus on what is negative. This is not what God does. He is just but also forgives wrongs. He brings us to focus not on the knowledge of the tree of good and evil but rather keeps our gaze on the Tree of Life and only on what is good and holy. I keep my gaze on Christ and on Him alone lest I sink. If I begin to focus and judge and criticize the Church or any of its leaders then I open my soul up for God to do this to me with His magnifying glass... and believe me... it is much larger in can see in the minutest detail our own faults and failings. [1] Judge not, that you may not be judged, [2] For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. [3] And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? [4] Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? [5] Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew Ch.7) This also applies to our focus on the weaknesses of the Church and its leaders, for when you begin to judge the Church, you are judging God Himself and His works for this IS THE BODY OF CHRIST... weaknesses, warts, and all.... and I love the Church entirely and wholly and I choose not to focus on the darkness but rather on the LIGHT OF GOD. St. Nicholas of Flüe, a famous Swiss saint, father of a family, bluntly told anyone too ready to point out the faults of priests: "And you, how many times have you prayed for the sanctity of priests? Tell me: what have you done to obtain good vocations for the Church?" God the Father spoke to St. Catherine of Siena about his “ministers,” the priests. She recorded it in her Dialogue: …[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of... my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good. …[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them. You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy... You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears. Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them. And if you should ask me why I said that this sin of those who persecute holy Church is grave than any other sin, and why it is my will that the sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them, this is how I would answer you: Because the reverence you pay to them is not actually paid to them, but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry. So the reverence belongs not to the ministers, but to me … and just as the reverence is done to me, so also is the irreverence, for I have already told you that you must not reverence them for themselves but for the authority I have entrusted to them. For this reason, no one has excuse to say, “I am doing no harm, nor am I rebelling against holy Church. I am simply acting against the sins of evil pastors.” Such persons are deluded, blinded as they are by their own selfishness. To me redounds every assault they make on my ministers: derision, slander, disgrace, abuse. Whatever is done to them I count as done to me. For I have said, and I say it again: No one is to touch my christs. It is my right to punish them, and no one else’s. Therefore, I will tell you, if all the other sins these people have committed were put on one side and the one sin on the other, this one would weigh more in my sight than all the others. I have shown you this so that you would have more reason to grieve that I am offended and these wretched souls damned, so that the bitter sorrow of you and my other servants, by my kind mercy, might dissolve the great darkness that has come over these rotten members who are cut off from the mystic body of holy Church. O dearest daughter, grieve without measure at the sight of such wretched blindness in those who have been washed in the blood, and have been nourished with this blood at the breast of holy Church! Now like rebels they have pulled away from that breast out of fear and under the pretext of correcting the faults of my ministers -- something I have forbidden them to do, for I do not want my anointed ones touched by them. What terror should come over you and my other servants when you hear any mention of that wretched chain of theirs! Your tongue could never describe how hateful it is to me!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Too many Deacons? Not

This outstanding and thoughtful post comes from Deacon Bill Ditewig; one of the most well known and respected Permanent Deacons in the Church. His website, which is bookmarked here, is a must read: Deacons Today: Dalmatics and Beyond. In this article he discusses if too many Deacons is a possibility. The rationale for these types of discussions is usually based on sheer numbers and how we see Deacons as parish ministers and glorified altar boys. This is why Deacons who settle for safe parish-only assignments cause the community heartache. Deacons serve everywhere; you are not a Deacon only when wearing flowing robes. Deacons are in front in the community serving those most needy, most vulnerable and, in the eyes of the world, most unlovable. And we must always remember: Deacons are not Deacons do! Enjoy the article: Deacons and Diakonia: Too Many Deacons? Recently the Diocese of Worcester announced that it was suspending its diaconate formation program pending a thorough review of the pastoral needs of the diocese. The basic question seems to be: "Do we have enough deacons?" This raises some interesting areas for discussion, especially in light of what we've already examined about the nature of the diaconate. The article mentions the possibility that there might be enough deacons to meet the needs of the diocese. Deacon Gerald Du Pont, the current head of the National Association of Deacon Directors, and Fr. Shawn MacKnight, the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops were both interviewed for the article. I simply would like to make two points: 1) No one should ever be ordained to any order (bishop, deacon, presbyter) if there is no pastoral need for that ministry. The ordained ministries do not exist for the good of the ordained themselves, but for the common good and building up of the whole People of God (see, for example, Lumen gentium 18). We don't often think of this important dimension; it is far more common to speak of the vocation a particular person receives and then responds to. When approached in this way, a vocation can be (mistakenly) as a personal thing: "I have received a vocation from God to be [bishop, presbyter, deacon]." However, that is only half the story: an ecclesial vocation is, in fact, just that -- a vocation exercised with and for the Church. Lumen gentium 29 further states: "It pertains to the competent territorial bodies of bishops, of one kind or another, with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff, to decide whether and where it is opportune for such deacons to be established for the care of souls." Therefore, to review the pastoral needs of a diocese in terms of the ordained ministers needed is certainly appropriate. 2) However, here's the rub. The question becomes: How do we determine the needs of the diocesan Church? It is in response to this question that I think we sometimes jump to wrong conclusions. There is too often a tendency to filter this question through pastors and parishes: "What do our parishes need?" "How will the deacon fit into these needs?" But the church is not confined to parishes, nor is the church's service exercised solely through parishes. Certainly it is important to know about specific parochial needs; but we must ensure that someone is assessing the needs of the broader church and community, and this is precisely a principal diaconal venue of service. The problem really only arises when deacons are understood primarily as PARISH ministers, not if they are understood as ministering in venues that transcend the parish. Further the "funding" of the diaconate should never come solely from parish resources. Whoever "pays" for something feels like they "own" something. If the deacon is truly a diocesan minister, then the diocese needs to find extra-parochial sources for funding. In conclusion, I would suggest that it is perfectly reasonable to assess the pastoral needs of the diocesan church for ordained ministry; however, in the assessment of those needs vis-a-vis the diaconate, it should be ensured the widest possible lens be used, and that more than parish-centered needs be worked into the equation.

Archbishop of NY visits prison

At Staten Island prison, Archbishop Timothy Dolan tells inmates 'all of us are sinners' By Marjorie Hack Staten Island Advance STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The modest chapel at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Charleston is a daily source of comfort and redemption for dozens of the prison’s 950 inmates. Today, its grace and sanctity took on added meaning as Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, spiritual leader of Catholics in 405 parishes in the southern region of the state of New York, visited to celebrate mass during the Lenten season. Some 75 inmates packed the room, and according to one, perhaps 15 others were turned away. According to the medium-security state facility’s Superintendent, Dennis Breslin, those who faithfully attend mass were the primary target audience. Those who made the cut spoke of the Archbishop and finding God in reverential tones. Former Manhattan resident Pedro Robles, who’s been incarcerated for 13 years on a conviction of murder, said he attends mass "all the time." He said formal services are held Sunday and Tuesday; a Bible study class meets on Monday and "a special movie is screened on Wednesday." Paul Vittoriosa of Huguenot, in year two of a five-year sentence on a burglary conviction, called the day "special." "He takes time out of his day to come to us," he explained. Inmate Kevin White who sang a song to the Archbishop titled "Beacon of Light," in which he told Dolan "Every time I pray, I think of you," said, "I was in awe." He called the experience of standing and singing before the leader of the Catholic church in this region of New York "extremely motivating and spiritual." Inmate Mark Teson began the proceedings with a reading about lepers from the Second Book of Kings. Fellow inmate Louis Gelsiomino, who has discovered a love of singing since his incarceration several years ago, performed "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" For his part, Dolan described the inmates as "an inspiration" to him. "A lot of people come see me. You couldn’t do that, so I came here." He reminded those gathered that "two prisoners were with Jesus on the cross. He turned to one of them and said, ‘This day, you’ll be with me in Paradise.’ " The Archbishop noted that the verses read by Teson about lepers are particularly apt for prison inmates because years ago, when the contagious disease was much more common, lepers were banished to deserted places, much as inmates are shut off from society. "Jesus likes it when we admit we have problems and are sinners," he said, noting that "all of us are sinners. We need mercy and healing that only Jesus can give." Dolan related a story of Archbishop Fulton Sheen visiting a leper colony in Africa decades ago and taking with him a cross blessed in Rome. As he passed among the stricken, he came across a man whose hand was little more than pulp and he recoiled, said Dolan. Sheen immediately realized that "he was a leper for turning away. He took the man’s hand in his, saying ‘I am honored and grateful to be in your presence.’ " He then told those gathered, "Know that you are with me in a special way." Joining Dolan were Rev. Frank Naccarato, the pastor at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, who said Dolan’s presence "is a sign of the church’s care and concern for those in prison." Rev. Naccarato told Dolan that attendance at Sunday mass in the prison has increased 50 percent over the last six months. Also in attendance were co-vicars of Staten Island — Monsignor Peter Finn, pastor of Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church, West Brighton, and Monsignor James Dorney, pastor of St. Peter’s R.C. Church, New Brighton. Monsignor John McCarthy of St. Patrick’s R.C. Church also attended. At the conclusion of the mass, Dolan was showered with gifts — first, from Breslin, who bestowed him with two New York Mets caps — one for the Archbishop, another for his mother — with the admonition that "You gotta believe." Breslin also thanked Dolan for his time. "You don’t understand how important it is for the inmates to get visitors in general. When people take time out of a busy schedule, it makes us feel valuable. We can feel invisible," he admitted. Inmates then came forward bearing bags of Twizzlers (Dolan expressed delight that they were no-fat), a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the prison team and a hand-drawn portrait of the Archbishop, crafted and presented by inmate Bernard Ragan. After taking a good look, Dolan thanked Ragan "for doing it from the stomach up." The presence of Father Cruz, who accompanied Dolan on the visit, was noted, and Ken Hoffworth, director of the prison apostolate for New York, was also acknowledged for his support. At the conclusion of the mass, Dolan spent time conversing with the inmates in attendance, before paying a visit to the infirmary.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another faithful witness from the Saint of the day

St. Margaret of Clitherow

Feastday: March 26

St. Margaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise." Her feast day is March 26th.

Chicken Little Catholicism

There is a lot of Chicken Little Catholicism these days especially on the internet, facebook, etc. I don't know what is more prevelant these days: those that attack the Church from the outside or those Catholics who say they love the Church but the proverbial sky is always falling. Some Catholics have made quite a nice "cottage industry" of rallying like minded chicken littles and, in the name of Holy Mother Church, quite a handsome income too. Always cloaked in these "sky is falling" reports are code; you know the last 40 years, post Vatican II, liberals, the social justice crowd, the new Mass, etc., etc. The most consistent thing about chicken little Catholicism is that while it rails incessantly about all things falling apart, it offers very little hope, absolutely no joy, has no solutions(of course except to turn back the clock to say, oh, more than 40 years ago)states facts that never tell the whole story, often demonizes Pope's as long as they came after 1958, refers to the Catholic Church of America(did not know that even existed)(and I thought Catholic = universal) and they never, ever believe in meeting people where they are and bringing them to where they can be: intimately in love with Christ.

The chicken little internal attacks appear to have multiple layers of motivation; political, financial, territorial, even a we-win mentality. Last time I checked; we have our victory in Jesus Christ and the Church He established on earth. And when I did some checking; He was cool with establishing the Church with human beings who come in all shapes and sizes; warts and all. For His first Pope he picked Peter; he struggled with obedience and loyalty once. And Peter and Paul did not always agree(see Galatians chapter 2). My point: the Church has always had issues based on human weakness, blind ambition, sometimes outright corruption, run-away disobedience and guess what; this predates the last 40 years or so.

The chicken little internal attacks tells us that the Church is failing; has been failing. These sky falling Catholics must be contending that the Holy Spirit is no longer alive and working within His Church. These attacks of all that is wrong must be more powerful than the gates of hell; which Jesus told us would not prevail against His Church. Oh happy day that these folks no more than Jesus Himself! As an aside, this is the same crowd that might be in shock to learn that at the 1st Mass, the Lord's Supper, was not spoken in latin.

History should give us great hope that should be more than enough to sustain and inspire us. Can we look to the example's of how the Church; despite the Great Schism, continued to grow or after the mass exodus of those following Luther, Calvin, et. al., more converts were won in the New World than the Church lost in the old. How about today? I just saw a recent video by one of the chief chicken little that the Church is losing membership or some claim like that. The only thing that will bring it back, says he, is to jump the Bishops, cast off the last 40 years, reject social justice, and walk around 24/7/365 in sack cloth and ashes. Maybe the Church is not growing where he lives and works. I don't really know. In a world with over 6 billion souls and with more distractions than ever before; with some 30,000 competing Christian denominations, sects and sub-sects, the Catholic Church grows; now over 1.1 billion strong. Is every Catholic a faithful 100% lock-step with the Vatican Catholic: NO. And we can see that in every generation of the Church if you just read the saints, the Popes, the Church Fathers.

In the last 5 years, the net number of Priests serving Holy Mother Church has increased; INCREASED. Now much work must continue to be done in vocations; I'm encouraged as I have witnessed strong vocations from missionaries I have befriended from both Africa and India. And more than a few dioceses in America are seeing encouragement in vocations. And of course the chicken little leadership never, ever talks about the vocational fruit being produced by a healthy and growing permanent diaconate. Of course this is a Paul VI thing so maybe it's part of the 40 year dilema.

The Catholic Church today is growing in ministries too. She is more robust that ever in programs like prison ministry, hospice, lobbying governments for basic human rights, feeding the hungry, responding to the homeless and poor and IS the preeminent voice in the world for the unborn. She continues to proclaim the dignity of the family and marriage while teaching an unconvinced world of the dangers of artificial contraception, and immoral fertilization efforts. She defends vigorously those who are elderly and ill; decrying euthanasia and assisted suicide. You get the drift.

Before you attack this little blog piece; I've done this from my easy chair; no research, no staff notes, no picking up the Bible or the Catechism. Perhaps I should have before I hit "send". And please don't blow me off as naive. I'm plenty aware of the many problems the Church faces daily, and has faced for 2,000 not 40 years. Truth be told, the Church will survive because God wills it;not because we speak latin or not, we have Bishops full body slamming politcians in the communion line, or whatever else seems to produce mass indigestion for chicken little and those who see the sky falling. The Church survives because She is the bridegroom of Jesus Christ; and He loves Her and defends Her and we need to be more confident in Him. Yep, we will have Bishops, Priests, Deacons who disappoint us; even fail us. But the Church will NEVER fail.

And that's no LIE or FALSEHOOD! And I didn'teven use a pencil{:>)

(By the way; thats just my little smiley face; it ain't a satanic or new age symbol; really; you can look up now; it will be O.K.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Good Thief

Saint of the Month
St. Dismas, the Good Thief
According to tradition, Dismas was the so-called Good Thief who was crucified along with another thief (later named Gestas) and Jesus on the hill called Golgotha on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Writing centuries apart, two Church Fathers, Tertullian and Augustine, claimed that the three died on March 25, the date that was designated as Dismas's feast day.

St. Dismas, the Good Thief
The Gospel of Luke relates Jesus' conversation with the two thieves, though it does not name them. After having been mocked by both the Jewish authorities and the Roman soldiers, Jesus is taunted by one thief, who challenges Jesus, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." (Luke 23:39) But the other thief, the Good Thief, takes the opposite view.

The Good Thief recognizes that Jesus is innocent and has done nothing wrong He also acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah, by saying to Him, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23:42) To which Jesus replies, "Amen, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) In the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the words spoken by the Good Thief to Jesus are repeated just before Holy Communion.

Other stories about Jesus and Dismas related in the apocryphal gospels, sprang up later. In one, Dismas robs the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt, but sensing the Child's holiness, he lets them pass unharmed. The name Dismas in all likelihood is a derivation of the Greek word for "east."


Glorious St. Dismas,
you alone of all the great Penitent Saints
were canonized by Christ Himself.
You were assured of a place in Heaven with Him
because of the sincere confession of your sins at Calvary
and your true sorrow for them
as you hanged side by side with Him in that open confessional.
Pray to Him for me that I shall never again desert Him,
but that at the close of my life
I may hear from Him the words He addressed to you:
"Amen, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise."

The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

>>>Celebrate today this glorious feast; 9 months before Christmas Day the Church gives us the date to celebrate the announcement by Gabriel to Mary that she will bear the son of God and name Him Jesus! Praise Be to God!

The Annunciation

The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of Godlike Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"

The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."

Since 1889 Holzmann and many Protestant writers have tried to show that the verses Luke 1:34-35, containing the message of conception through the Holy Ghost are interpolated. Usener derives the origin of the "myth" from the heathen hero worship; but Harnack tries to prove that it is of Judaic origin (Isaiah 7:14, Behold a Virgin shall conceive, etc.). Bardenhewer, however, has fully established the authenticity of the text (p. 13). St. Luke may have taken his knowledge of the event from an older account, written in Aramaic or Hebrew. The words: "Blessed art thou among women" (v. 28), are spurious and taken from verse 42, the account of the Visitation. Cardinal Cajetan wanted to understand the words: "because I know not man", not of the future, but only of the past: up to this hour I do not know man. This manifest error, which contradicts the words of the text, has been universally rejected by all Catholic authors. The opinion that Joseph at the time of the Annunciation was an aged widower and Mary twelve or fifteen years of age, is founded only upon apocryphal documents. The local tradition of Nazareth pretends that the angel met Mary and greeted her at the fountain, and when she fled from him in fear, he followed her into the house and there continued his message. (Buhl, Geogr. v. Palaest., 1896.) The year and day of the Annunciation cannot be determined as long as new material does not throw more light on the subject. The present date of the feast (25 March) depends upon the date of the older feast of Christmas.

The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Right Back to Jail

After 3 full days of time inside prison I found myself right back in the big house tonight. The Kairos retreat behind me I was back with my candidate in training for an evening with the St. Peter's Catholic Community of Rayburn. Tonight was communion service night with Scriptures from this coming Sunday's readings. I was blessed to have the opportunity to preach to the men about the wonderful encounter of Jesus and the woman at the well and how we all thirst; thirst for that living water that Jesus alone can give each of us.

At the end of the evening I was able to visit with the men and review their progress through Lent as we discussed our personal commitments to prayer, fasting and almsiving(sharing). We also discussed the need to be a powerful witness every other day of the week when not in chapel.

We then made a trip to the infirmary, always a powerful experience. Tonight we visited with a man who is in compassionate care(akin to hospice) as he may be entering last days of his life.

Again, as is always the way, during a week that has posed some personal challenges, the prison visit becomes a huge spiritual oasis in my life.

And I even got to visit with a few of the men at the Kairos group from last weekends powerful retreat.

God is so good and in control. My Wednesday night back in jail was just what the doctor, or in this case the good LOrd Himself, ordered!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Church and sex; you might be surprised

Featured on Front Page, Good Lovin’, Theology of the Body
Common Mis-Conceptions about the Church and Sex
March 17th, 2011 by Ellen Gable Hrkach

In today’s secular culture, there are some common misconceptions (pun intended) regarding the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage. I believe the following attitudes (in italics below) illustrate that many modern Catholics, young and old alike, are poorly catechized, especially in this important area.

The Church is preoccupied with sex. Actually, it is the world which is preoccupied with sex. Several popes have written encyclicals and the Church has issued statements and teachings more in response to the world being so preoccupied. Turn on any television channel, look through any DVD store or surf the internet to find out that sex/pornography is a lucrative financial commodity.

The Church has no business in our bedrooms. In Familiaris Consortio, John P aul II wrote, “In the field of conjugal morality, the Church is Teacher and Mother and acts as such.”

Let’s consider for a moment that God created all of us. And let’s also consider that each one of us was created us through our parents having sex. God is there in the bedroom with us. We can invite him to have a deeper participation in our sexual life by praying before sex (although I have heard people audibly groan when my husband and I have said this during our talks), by being open to life (never using artificial contraception or contraceptive behaviors like withdrawal) and by always putting our spouse’s needs ahead of our own. Inviting God to a fuller, richer, deeper relationship within the sexual embrace makes the experience not only more spiritually enriching, it makes it naturally more pleasurable and more emotionally satisfying.

The Pope is a celibate man who has no clue what it’s like to be married and shouldn’t be advising on that subject. I highly recommend to anyone who says something like this that they read “Love and Responsibility,” which John Paul II wrote in 1960 as Archbishop of Krakow. On page 272 and 275, JP II writes:

“It is necessary to insist that intercourse must not serve merely as a means of allowing (his) climax….The man must take (the) difference between male and female reactions into account… so that climax may be reached by both…and as far as possible occur in both simultaneously. The husband must do this not for hedonistic, but for altruistic reasons. In this case, if we take into account the shorter and more violent curve of arousal in the man, (such) tenderness on his part in the context of marital intercourse acquires the significance of an act of virtue.”

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the same as the old rhythm method. NFP is based on a woman’s current cycle observations and relies very little on previous cycle history. The rhythm method relied on knowledge of a woman’s cycle history and placed no importance on the woman’s current mucus and/or temperature readings. Although the rhythm method was as reliable as other contraceptive methods in the 50′s and 60′s, and worked well with women who had regular cycles, this method did not have a high effectiveness rate in preventing pregnancy.

Modern methods of NFP are 99 percent effective rate for preventing pregnancy and have high degrees of effectiveness in helping women naturally become pregnant.

The Church wants couples to have as many babies as they can. While the Church encourages couples to be generous, she has never encouraged them to have as many babies as they can. On the contrary, Pope John Paul II, in the encyclical Familiaris Consortio, and Pope Paul VI, in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, both speak about responsible parenthood.

In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI says, “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II wrote, “With regard to the question of lawful birth regulation, the ecclesial community at the present time must take on the task of instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way.”

My priest told me to use my conscience in this area and I believe it’s okay to use contraception. While it is true that one must use their conscience in all matters (not just the area of sexuality) it is important to realize that one’s conscience must be well-formed. The teachings on the immorality of contraception and pre-marital sex are part of the Church’s constant 2,000 year tradition. Interestingly, contraception was considered immoral by all Christian Churches up until 1930 when the Anglican Bishops at their Lambeth Conference voted to allow contraception for married couples.

Since that time, most Christian churches (except for the Catholic Church) have accepted contraception.

This teaching is based on natural law. One of the main purposes of sex is to procreate. To enjoy the fruits of it without the natural consequences is like enjoying food, then vomiting it. Bulimia is an eating disorder which thwarts the natural consequence of eating. In the same way, contraception is an evil which seeks to attain the gratification of sexual intercourse without the responsibilities. With NFP, if husband and wife wish to avoid pregnancy, they abstain during those times in which sex would likely result in a pregnancy.

The Church’s teachings on sex are impossible ideals. The teachings exist for our benefit, to assist us in getting to heaven, to help us to be selfless human beings here on earth. They are not, however, impossible ideals. On the contrary: they are reachable, sustainable and, most importantly, these ideals lead us to holiness.

I admit that the teachings of the Catholic Church can be difficult to follow. In terms of using NFP within marriage, it can be very challenging, whether a couple is open to having a large family or whether a couple, for serious reasons of their own, decide to use NFP to limit their families. Periodic abstinence, in our sex-saturated culture, can be and is a sacrifice.

There are many misconceptions regarding the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Most are simply that: misconceptions of a teaching that is widely mocked and ignored in secular society. I have found that embracing these beautiful teachings has led to a faith-filled marriage with a spiritually fulfilling and satisfying conjugal life.

Ellen Gable Hrkach is a wife and mother, freelance writer (
, award-winning author of two novels (
columnist for
, co-creator of the Family Life cartoon, NFP teacher, marriage preparation instructor, chastity educator. She began writing in a journal 20 years ago to ease the grief during pregnancy losses. The journal soon became her first published article “Five Little Souls in Heaven,” which she wrote for the Nazareth Journal in 1994. Since then, she has had articles published in Family Foundations Magazine, Restoration, Ecclesia and numerous other magazines and websites. She and her family live in Pakenham, Ontario Canada.

Toward Christian Unity; welcome the Lutherans

The Lutheran Landslide
Increasing Number of Lutherans are Coming into the Catholic Church
by Tim Drake Friday, March 18, 2011

One of the most under-reported religious stories of the past decade has been the movement of Lutherans across the Tiber.

What first began with prominent Lutherans, such as Richard John Neuhaus (1990) and Robert Wilken (1994), coming into the Catholic Church, has become more of a landslide that could culminate in a larger body of Lutherans coming into the collectively.

In 2000, former Canadian Lutheran Bishop Joseph Jacobson came into the Church.

“No other Church really can duplicate what Jesus gave,” Jacobson told the Western Catholic Reporter in 2006.

In 2003, Leonard Klein, a prominent Lutheran and the former editor of Lutheran Forum and Forum Letter came into the Church. Today, both Jacobson and Klein are Catholic priests.

Over the past several years, an increasing number of Lutheran theologians have joined the Church’s ranks, some of whom now teach at Catholic colleges and universities. They include, but are not limited to: Paul Quist (2005), Richard Ballard (2006), Paul Abbe (2006), Thomas McMichael, Mickey Mattox, David Fagerberg, Bruce Marshall, Reinhard Hutter, Philip Max Johnson, and most recently, Dr. Michael Root (2010).

“The Lutheran church has been my intellectual and spiritual home for forty years,” wrote Dr. Root. “But we are not masters of our convictions. A risk of ecumenical study is that one will come to find another tradition compelling in a way that leads to a deep change in mind and heart. Over the last year or so, it has become clear to me, not without struggle, that I have become a Catholic in my mind and heart in ways that no longer permit me to present myself as a Lutheran theologian with honesty and integrity. This move is less a matter of decision than of discernment.”

It’s been said that “no one converts alone,” suggesting that oftentimes the effect of one conversion helps to move another along a similar path. That’s exemplified through Paul Quist’s story. He describes attending the Lutheran “A Call to Faithfulness” conference at St. Olaf College in June, 1990. There, he listened to, and met, Richard John Neuhaus, who would announce his own conversion just months later.

“What some Lutherans were realizing was that, without the moorings of the Church’s Magisterium, Lutheranism would ineluctably drift from it’s confessional and biblical source,” wrote Quist.

Many of the converts have come from The Society of the Holy Trinity, a pan-Lutheran ministerium organized in 1997 to work for the confessional and spiritual renewal of Lutheran churches.

Now, it appears that a larger Lutheran body will be joining the Church. Father Christopher Phillips, writing at the Anglo-Catholic blog, reports that the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (ALCC) clergy and parishes will be entering into the U.S. ordinariate being created for those Anglicans desiring to enter the Church.

According to the blog, the ALCC sent a letter to Walter Cardinal Kasper, on May 13, 2009, stating that it “desires to undo the mistakes of Father Martin Luther, and return to the One, Holy, and True Catholic Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ through the Blessed Saint Peter.” That letter was sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Surprisingly, in October 2010, the ALCC received a letter from the secretary of the CDF, informing them that Archbishop Donald Wuerl had been appointed as an episcopal delegate to assist with the implementation of Angelicanorum coetibus. The ALCC responded that they would like to be included as part of the reunification.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A weekend in jail and lives changed

I served my second Kairos retreat at the Rayburn Prison this weekend. My first experience was last March and I invite you to read that post. At that time I counted that first Kairos weekend as one of the most profound weekends of my life. I now have another profound weekend. My second Kairos started a day late for me as a work comittment prevented me from going in Thursday night. I joined the team early Friday morning; 6 a.m. to be exact, and we were in the prison by 7 a.m. I soon met my table mates, we were assigned the team name of St. Paul, and we all settled in for 3 full days of talks, prayers, sharing and wonderful singing.

This year I was happy to lead a prayer service on 3 encounters with Christ and I also gave a talk entitled You are not Alone! But mine was just one of many conributions to this weekend. What really mattered was the 35 participating inmates in their own unique ways came closer to Christ. Some made an outright profession of faith, others asked to accept Jesus in a personal relationship and others promised to work on their journey of faith. All agreed to work very hard on forgiveness and many forgave themselves and those people in their lives they harbored ill will.

I indeed love to support this Kairos retreat; this ministry. It is a nondenominational effort and our team is made up of many strong and dedicated Christians. As a Catholic Deacon I heartily embrace my participation and my belief that more of my Catholic brothers should consider the Kairos experience. During all Kairos events we simply talk about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, love and forgiveness. Once these men accept Chirst, they are free to work on their spirituality and their own personal walk of faith.

On Wednesday nights at Rayburn everyone knows that Deacon Mike is their to conduct his ministry for the Catholic community, known as the St. Peter's Catholic Community at Rayburn Correctional Center. I always check in with and visit my Kairos brothers too on Wednesday nights as they conduct small group prayer and share meetings. What a joy that every sqaure foot of that beautiful chapel is being used on Wednesday nights to preach Christ!

The Kairos weekend is long and demanding; so is discipleship and friendship with Christ. I may be tired, but I am so spiritually uplifted.

By the way, one of the nice fringe benefits of a Kairos weekend is to see the men enjoy really good food. I have learned a thing or two about prison food; it's not so good. And it lacks "fresh". When you see pure joy on a man's face because he is devouring a fresh banana or a salad with lunch or real butter for his baked potato; well, you get the point.

And the most moving part of a Kairos weekend; the beautiful cards and letters the men receive, especially from children who send wishes and prayers from their Sunday school class, CCD programs or youth groups. Almost 100% certain their will be no dry eyes in the chapel.

I wish to thnak the many folks who supported my participation in Kairos this weekend. I had dozens of people prepare cookies, dozens who prayed at designated times over the weekend and many others who made generous financial contributions. God blesses your heartfelt efforts and you have fulfilled the command of Jesus in Matthew 25; I was in prison and you visited me!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Litany of St. Joseph

Litany of St. Joseph
V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

V/ Christ, have mercy.
R/ Christ, have mercy.

V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

V/ Jesus, hear us.
R/ Jesus, graciously hear us.

V/ God, the Father of Heaven,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Holy Spirit,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ Holy Trinity, One God,
R/ have mercy on us.

R/for ff: pray for us.

Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
R/ have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of his household.
R/ And prince over all his possessions.

Let us pray. O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever. R/ Amen.

St. Joseph; Patron of the Church and foster-father of Jesus

St. Joseph

Feastday: March 19
Patron of the Universal Church

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)

We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.

Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.

Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.

We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.

There is much we wish we could know about Joseph -- where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -- "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).

In His Footsteps:
Joseph was foster father to Jesus. There are many children separated from families and parents who need foster parents. Please consider contacting your local Catholic Charities or Division of Family Services about becoming a foster parent.

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. Amen

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Retreat is here!

The Kairos retreat began tonight at Rayburn prison; regretfully I was not there. A pressing business matter and an out of town work trip made it impossible to rendezvous with the team in time to go into the prison tonight. So I begin my journey at 5:30 in the morning for 3 full days of spiritual talks, songs. food and fellowship that will help these inmates see and feel the love of Christ.

My limited experience at the Kairos retreat has been more than enough to convince me that this is such a great thing to do. Christian men and women on the support team, from many different denominations, witness Christ love for these men by thier words and actions.

On this Thursday night, exhausted from a long 2 days and what seemed like an even longer ride on the interstate, I am prayerfully preparing for tomorrow morning and ask you do the same. Anytime from now through Sunday at about 4 p.m. could you lift our Kairos retreat, the inmates and the team in prayer? Thank-you. And to my Catholic friends, please offer your Mass intentions this weekend for the retreat as well.

I have already mentioned it but again, thanks for the overwhelming support of cookies, financial help, posters, dedicated prayer times and your general well wishes and prayers for this important weekend. I so look forward to updating everyone next week when the retreat is over.

May God richly bless this good work!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Saint from the Bible; sharing the 17th with St Patty

>>>Who knew that the man responsible for giving the crucified Jesus a burial shared a feast day with St. Patrick? I did not know this until a few days ago.

St. Joseph of Arimathea
Feastday: March 17
1st century

The councillor (Lk 23:50) who, after the Crucifixion, requested the body of Christ from Pontius Pilate and provided for a proper burial for Christ. An immensely popular figure in Christian lore, Joseph was termed in the New Testament the “virtuous and righteous man” (Lk 23:50) and the man “who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God” (Mk 15:43). Described as .... . secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, [he] asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it” (In 19:38). According to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, he helped establish the community of Lydda. He also was a prominent figure in the legends surrounding the Holy Grail, appearing in Rob­ert de Barron’s early thirteenth-century romance Joseph d ‘Arirnathea, William of Malmesbury’s twelfth-century De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae, and Thomas Mallory’s famed Morte D ‘Arthur; William of almesbury’s tale recounts Joseph’s arrival in England with the Holy Grail and the building of the first church on the isle at Glastonbury; the passage on Joseph, however, was added in the thirteenth century.

The Breastplate of St. Patrick; a prayer

Saint Patrick's "Breastplate" Prayer

"...and having on the breastplate of righteousness;”

-Ephesians 6:14

Not our righteousness; Christ’s.

Prayer Upon Arising. Psalm 5 may added.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

St. Patrick

>>>Amazing how so many want to celebrate this day as a secular holiday when it truly is a day to remember a powerful witness to Christ and His Church. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick
Feastday: March 17
Patron of Ireland
b. 387 d.461

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints.

Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone's Irish.

There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story.

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote

"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why a shamrock?
Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

In His Footsteps:
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.

Why so many cookies?

It's time for the Kairos weekend retreat at the Rayburn Prison and for the 2nd time I'm a member of the team. This is a great event, and a great group of people, who bring the love and message of Jesus to those who seemed most lost in the prison. It's a massive effort; lasting from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon; all 4 days long, exhausting but rewarding beyond mere words.

One of the many things that the team uses over the weekend is homemade baked cookies. The men absolutely love the cookies. And these cookies are not only homemade by members of the team and those who support the effort, but they are prayed over by the bakers that as they receive these cookies they be open to receive the Word of God!

Just by putting out the message that I need cookies, because each team member is responsible for 50 dozen cookies, I am amazed at how many keep coming. Today I delivered over 65 dozen to the advance team and I understand still more are on the way.

For us who take our everyday lives for granted, not to mention our freedom and hopefully our relationship with God, it seems strange that mere cookies could do so much for those who need so much. Perhaps it begins as just good homemade cookies. Over time, there is a realization that others went out of their way to make something so good for others to enjoy. And then perhaps it is the realization that they are made with love and prayers. And perhaps they can consider the value of love, and forgiveness and the power of prayer.

I can't wait to see the men enjoying their cookies and all the resulting joy and hopefulness that will result from this weekend's retreat. If you are reading this can I ask you for your prayers over the weekend for the retreat, the retreat members and the inmates participating in the 2011 spring Kairos? I bet I can.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Here come new Catholics

>>>This great news from Great Britain. Wait to we see the numbers from the USA and where in the USA they are coming from! The Church continues to grow despite our own human weakness and those inside the church that are never happy! We tend to forget; we are not in charge. The promise endures: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her!

Record number of people to be received into the Church at Easter
By Anna Arco on Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A record number of people in England and Wales will be received into the Catholic Church in Holy Week and Easter.

Over 4,700 people took part in Rite of Election ceremonies in dioceses around England and Wales last weekend, marking a bumper year of new faithful, both catechumens and candidates for reception.

The number was unusually high thanks to the number of groups of Anglicans being received into the Church in Holy Week for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – about 900 lay people and 61 clergy.

The Archdiocese of Westminster had the largest numbers of candidates and catechumens come forward with almost 900, 62 of whom will join the ordinariate in Holy Week, while 829 people will be received or baptised at Easter. It marks a slight drop from 2009’s record of 850 people being received into the Church at Easter. Southwark Archdiocese had a record 684, of whom 167 people were joining the ordinariate.

Meanwhile, according to the figures released by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Brentwood diocese has the highest number of former Anglicans joining the Ordinariate of all the English and Welsh dioceses, with 240 people. The south of England had the largest number of people joining the ordinariate while 11 dioceses, located predominantly in the north of England and Wales, did not have any people joining the ordinariate at the Rite of Election. Attendance to the Rite of Election was optional for former Anglicans joining the ordinariate.

The Diocese of Portsmouth experienced a record number of candidates and catechumens, without even counting the 61 former Anglicans joining the ordinariate.

Speaking at the Rite of Election, Bishop Crispian Hollis said: “This is my 23rd celebration of the Rite of Election in this Cathedral and in the diocese, and this year we are seeing the largest numbers I have known coming forward for the final stage of the journey to the Easter sacraments.”

During his homily he specially greeted those joining the ordinariate, and added: “Wherever you are coming from and whatever has been the character of your journey of faith, we are blessed by your presence. You bring a huge variety and experience of Christian life and your own personal journeys of faith to this celebration, to your parishes and communities, to the diocese and to the Church. You all have much to offer.”

Speaking about those joining the ordinariate, Bishop Kieran Conry, who is in charge of the Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “The witness of so many people taking this life-changing step is so very encouraging. Each year people freely choose to come forward from all walks of life, bringing with them unique experiences and talents. The Catholic community welcomes them with love and the assurance of prayer. If you’re considering taking a similar step or are not sure yet, come and see. Give your local Catholic church a ring or ask a Catholic friend for help.”

Peter Jennings, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, said there were significantly more people coming forward for reception into the Church this year than last year. In the past the archdiocese has had one ceremony for the Rite of Election but this year they had two, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. This included four ordinariate groups, two coming forward for the Rite of Election on each day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Louise de Marillac

St. Louise de Marillac

Feastday: March 15

Louise de Marillac was born probably at Ferrieres-en-Brie near Meux, France, on August 12, 1591. She was educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She desired to become a nun but on the advice of her confessor, she married Antony LeGras, an official in the Queen's service, in 1613. After Antony's death in 1625, she met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected. In 1633 she set up a training center, of which she was Directress in her own home, for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though it was not formally approved until 1655). She took her vows in 1634 and attracted great numbers of candidates. She wrote a rule for the community, and in 1642, Vincent allowed four of the members to take vows. Formal approval placed the community under Vincent and his Congregation of the Missions, with Louise as Superior. She traveled all over France establishing her Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions. By the time of her death in Paris on March 15, the Congregation had more than forty houses in France. Since then they have spread all over the world. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934, and was declared Patroness of Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960. Her feast day is March 15th.

Keep praying for Japan

Litany for Japan
by Anthony Schefter on Mar 13, 2011 in Featured, Those in Need

Our Lady of Akita, pray for us.
St. Peter Baptist, martyr and patron of Japan, pray for us.
St. Francis Xavier, patron of Japan, pray for us.
St. Paul Miki, martyr, pray for us.
St. Anthony Dainan, martyr, pray for us.
St. Anthony Ishida, martyr, pray for us.
St. Francis Nagasaki, martyr, pray for us.
St. Francis of St. Bonaventure, martyr, pray for us.
St. Gabriel Jusuke, martyr, pray for us.
St. Gaius Francis, martyr, pray for us.
St. James Kisai, martyr, pray for us.
St. Joachim Sakachibara, martyr, pray for us.
St. John Kokumbuku, martyr, pray for us.
St. John Soan de Goto, martyr, pray for us.
St. Leonard Kimura, martyr, pray for us.
St. Leo Tanaka, martyr, pray for us.
St. Louis Ibachi, martyr, pray for us.
St. Louise of Omura, martyr, pray for us.
St. Matthias of Meako, martyr, pray for us.
St. Michael Kozaki, martyr, pray for us.
St. Paul Aybara, martyr, pray for us.
St. Peter Shukeshiko, martyr, pray for us.
St. Romanus Aybara, martyr, pray for us.
St. Thomas Danki, martyr, pray for us.
St. Thomas Kozaki, martyr, pray for us.
St. Vincent Kaun, martyr, pray for us.
Holy Martyrs of Japan, pray for us.

God our Father,
you guide everything in wisdom and love.
Accept the prayers we offer for the nation of Japan;
by the wisdom of their leaders and integrity of their citizens,
may their suffering be lessened,
may harmony and justice be restored
and may there be lasting prosperity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Diet Coke; what's the big deal?

So for Lent I have given up Diet Coke. Seems like no big deal. I must admit that Diet Coke is a big problem for me. I drink Diet Coke from early in the morning to late at night. A few years ago I found a store with a soda fountain that dispenses caffeine free diet coke; important for me becuase I react pretty violently to caffeine. So figuring it aint got sugar and it aint got caffeine drink up! I easily can drink over 100 ounces a day; easily! Obviously, addicted. And a doctor friend told me that even that much diet coke is bad. Bad on the kidneys and not all that great for diets too. Have you ever noticed that most of us drinking diet coke are, well, big. Too much soda can actually expand the stomach and make you feel not full.

Despite all the facts above, I drink away. As I approached Lent last week, I made a comittment to sacrifice my addiction to the diet soda and introduce myself to water. I did this for healthy reasons and sacrificial reasons too. If I were to be totally honest, diet coke is indeed the toughest thing to give up. Hands down!

So how am I doing 6 days into Lent? Actually, since 6 p.m. Mardi Gras night, not one sip of diet coke has passed my lips. And I am drinking tons of water. I also have been introduced to green tea. So far, so good. What makes it very good, for me at least, is that I am doing this in the spirit of Lent reminding myself that my sacrifice is tame compared to the sacrifice of Jesus to save me, a sinner. And my sacrifice is being done in conjunction with trying to focus on prayer, the readings of the Lenten season and my desire to give alms; in the form of time and talent and treasure too. I will be very focused on this in the coming days as I support the retreat at the Rayburn prison.

It's just diet coke, caffeine free at that. And yes, I do miss it and know if I take just one sip I will want more. But my pledge is to remain tough and stay strong and make this sacrifice work for His greater glory. And if it results in a small lifestyle change; all the better!

Good luck to all of you too on your Lenten journey.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And you thought Saturday was busy?

After a very busy, hectic but rewarding Saturday I awoke early on this dark Sunday morning to begin another amazing day of ministry. Deprived of another hour of sleep by this foolishness called daylight savings time, I left the house in total darkness, around 6:15 a.m. to begin my morning at Most Holy Trinity. With our pastor still recovering from his surgery we are relying on the help of visiting priests. So I made sure that I was on hand for the 7 a.m. Mass to assist our visitor and wound up staying for the 9 and the 11. This first Sunday of Lent was a wonderful opportunity to remind everyone of the penetential nature of the season and encourage all to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

During the morning, between Masses, I visited the children of our 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade CCD. My mission today was to get the children to draw colorful pictures to bring to Rayburn prison for next week's retreat. They all enthusiastically agreed. It is always a joyful experience to visit with our CCD children.

And as I completed my last Mass of the morning I jumped in the car with one of our Deacon candidates and we took off for an afternoon at Rayburn prison. Today my mission was to expose Tim to the cell blocks including the lock down unit. Here is where the rubber meets the road in prison ministry. Here is where you just listen and realize that your ministry is about presence.

We spent about 2 houes on the ground before returning home where I eventually made it to the comfort of my own living room about 4:30 p.m. Yes, a long day of ministry but a fulfilling and rewarding one! And my wondeful wife spent most of the day baking cookies for my prison retreat this coming weekend.

God is so good; all the time!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Homily for 1st Sunday of Lent 2011

Let’s make a deal! That crazy, zany TV show from the sixties and seventies is back on daytime TV again with a new host and new look. But just like the original show, the temptation of something bigger and better behind curtain #1 is too much for most contestants. Many times the contestant has a great prize in the bag, but that temptation is too great and often leads to big disappointment.

We deal with temptations all our lives. We are tempted by food, the love of money, expensive clothes, to do something we know we should not do. Temptations are all around us everyday; at school, at work, at home; everywhere!

As people of faith, when tempted to turn away from evil, do we follow the lead of Jesus and follow the plan of God our Father?

On this 1st Sunday of Lent, the Church gives us the Gospel account from St. Matthew of Jesus being tempted by the devil. This occurs immediately after the Baptism of Jesus. Using the parallel of the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years, we find Jesus in the desert for forty days. Consider the conditions of the desert as Jesus would find it: foreboding, hot by day, cold by night, stark, dreary, and windy, no shade, no food and no water. And to make the desert experience worse; here comes the devil hopeful that he can tempt Jesus with his deceptions.

The devil, following his pattern in the Garden of Eden, attempts to use cunning and lies to challenge Jesus. He tells Jesus rather boldly, “if you are the Son of God” challenging His identity and His authority. What follows is three dares: change the stones into bread, jump from the parapet of the temple and finally bow and worship me and I will give you the kingdoms of the world. And to make these temptations even more appealing, the devil quotes Scripture. But just like that dreaded curtain #1, the devils promises indeed disappoint.

Unlike Adam & Eve in the Garden, Jesus will prevail in the battle of the devils temptations. Jesus refuses to bow to the will of the devil, resists him completely and totally fulfills the will of His heavenly Father. Jesus does not turn stones to bread but will turn bread and wine into His Body and Blood that we take in memory of Him. Jesus does not throw himself from the temple but leaps for us into the great dark abyss of death on a cross so we may have eternal life. Jesus will not worship the devil, or anyone else, except His heavenly Father, pointing the way for each of us to follow God in all things, at all times.

Pope Benedict, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, tells us that like Jesus we are to go to the Father when tempted. We are to never cast God aside from that which tempts us in this world. No matter how hot or cold, hungry or thirsty, no matter how attractive worldliness seems, follow the model of Jesus in the desert and say no to the devil. Make God first, let Him mold us and teach us His ways.

With Lent only a few days old, how can we respond to the lesson we learn in today’s Gospel? Can we pledge to make reconciliation an important part of our Lenten journey? We can find God’s abundant love and mercy when we seek His forgiveness in a Sacramental way, in Reconciliation. Can we pledge to me faithful to our Lenten devotions by attending Stations of the Cross on Friday’s in Lent? We will offer two times each Friday, after morning Mass and at 6 p.m. Will we pledge to follow the Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving? Daily prayer is a must; perhaps a morning offering or reciting the 51st Psalm, or praying with the daily Lenten readings. Fasting means abstaining from meat on Fridays and the prescribed days and cutting back on the excess that dominates so many of our personal diets. Almsgiving is the simple sharing of our time, talent and treasure in support of others. We may choose to give something up for Lent, or do something extra, something special for Lent.

As we prepare to meet Jesus in the Eucharist on this first Sunday of Lent, can we be aware of God’s love and mercy for us and the perfect model we have in Jesus showing us the way? We don’t need anything the devil has to offer. We can resist those temptations. We don’t need to make a deal and take what’s behind curtain #1.

God’s love and Jesus’ example is all we need. And that’s a deal we all should be willing to take!

I met the bride & groom at the altar

I have never been in this position before. I was asked to fill in for my pastor tonight at a wedding. My pastor had surgery just two days ago and was unable to fulfill his plans to officiate at the wedding. Called to help I was happy to say yes; afterall, the circumstances were unusual and the couple certainly deserved to have their wedding day go off without a hitch. But never before have I officiated a wedding without meeting the couple and even preparing them for their wedding and life together as man & wife.

I did get to say hi to both of them just moments before the wedding begin. I assured them that I would do all in my power to make the wedding special as I prepared to take my place at the front of the church. All went off without a hitch. I was able to explain to the family and friends gathered that I was more nervous then the bride & groom but that with God's help we would get through it.

The readings were proclaimed and I proclaimed the Gospel from Matthew about the greatest commandment: love God with your whole heart, whole souls and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Love! In my homily I asked what does love have to do with it? I took the opportunity to teach a little; about love; agape love where one loves unconditionally without expecting anything in return. I reminded the young couple that they are the ministers of this sacrament and that this sacrament was ordained for the salvation of others; each other.

Consent and vows were exchanged, rings blessed and the ceremony concluded; all was well with the world. I don't know if I will ever meet this young couple again; I hope so, but I will remember the special night we shared, on the altar before God and the witnesses and fulfilled the comittment to celebrate a sacrament; the sacrament of matrimony. Even if I never met them before!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pray for Japan

>>>Please pray for the people of Japan; all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. And we ask Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Akita, an approved apparition from Japan, to pray with us. May the divine will of God the Father be served and may Jesus bring us His healing and peace.

Our Lady of Akita

In 1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in Akita, Japan three messages through a statute of Mary. Bathed in a brilliant light, the statute became alive and spoke with a voice of indescribable beauty. Her Guardian Angel also appeared and taught her to pray. The wooden statute from which the voice came wept 101 times over a course of several years. It also perspired abundantly and the perspiration sent out a sweet perfume. Its right palm bled from a wound having the form of a cross. Hundreds of people witnessed many of these events. Scientific analysis of blood and tears from the statute provided by Professor Sagisaka of the faculty of Legal Medicine of the University of Akita confirmed that the blood, tears, and perspiration are real human tears, sweat, and blood. They come from three blood groups: O, B, and AB. Sister Agnes also has stigmata on the right palm. A Korean woman with terminal brain cancer received immediate healing while praying before the statute in 1981. The miracle was confirmed by Dr. Tong-Woo-Kim of the St. Paul Hospital in Seoul and Fr. Theisen, President of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Seoul. The second miracle was the complete cure of total deafness of Sister Agnes.

April, 1984 - Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, after years of extensive investigation, declares the events of Akita, Japan, to be of supernatural origin, and authorises throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita. He said: "The message of Akita is the message of Fatima."

June, 1988 - Vatican City - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives definitive judgement on the Akita events and messages as reliable and worthy of belief.

First message, July 6, 1973
"My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed Me well in abandoning all to follow Me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Be patient. It is the last trial. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together:"

"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom."

"Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls."

"Most Holy Mother of God. Never let me be separated from your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen."

" Pray very much for the Pope, the bishops and the priests."

Second Message on August 3, 1973
"My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord listen to what I have to say to you."

"It is very important. You will convey it to your superior."

"Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates."

"In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him and form a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger. I desire this also from your community, that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning: put it into practice: offer (whatever God may send) in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, according to capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord."

"Even in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered. Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master."

Third and the Last message on October 13, 1973:
". . . if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests."

"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord."

"The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them."

". . . Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Saint that helped Catholics Come Home, 300 years ago

St. John Ogilvie

Feastday: March 10

Born in 1579, John Ogilvie belonged to Scottish nobility. Raised a Calvinist, he was educated on the continent. Exposed to the religious controversies of his day and impressed with the faith of the martyrs, he decided to become a Catholic. In 1596, at age seventeen he was received into the Church at Louvain. Later John attended a variety of Catholic educational institutions, and eventually he sought admission into the Jesuits. He was ordained at Paris in 1610 and asked to be sent to Scotland, hoping some Catholic nobles there would aid him given his lineage. Finding none, he went to London, then back to Paris, and finally returned to Scotland. John's work was quite successful in bring back many people to the Faith. Some time later he was betrayed by one posing as a Catholic. After his arrest he was tortured in prison in an effort to get him to reveal the names of other Catholics, but he refused. After three trials, John was convicted of high treason because he converted Protestants to the Catholic Faith as well as denied the king's spiritual jurisdiction by upholding the Pope's spiritual primacy and condemning the oaths of supremacy and allegiance. Sentenced to death, the courageous priest was hanged at Glasgow in 1615 at the age of thirty-six. His feast day is March 10.

Top 10 Catholics Come Home List

>>>The Archdiocese of New Orleans invites all to Come Home! Send me a message if I can help you return to the Church.

Top 10 Reasons to Come Back
No matter how long you have been away from the Catholic Church, you can always come home. You can start going to Mass again (find a parish) and become a part of a parish community that is ready to welcome you with open arms. God is inviting you to dive into your faith in a deeper way than you ever have before.

You may already be feeling a strange inner pull to look into the Church again. That spiritual longing you feel is God drawing you back to Himself. God never forces; He only invites. He leaves the decision to return to the Catholic Church up to you.

There are numerous reasons for coming back to the Church. Though Christ is at the heart of the many reasons to come home to the Church, each individual’s experience in returning can be unique, depending upon whatever speaks to his or her heart.

Here are ten reasons (by Lorene Hanley Duqin of Our Sunday Visitor: and edited by Catholics Come Home) that influenced the decision of many of us to return to the practice of the Catholic faith:

•Number 10: Because we want meaning in life.
In the hustle of today's busy lifestyles, many of us suddenly realize that our lives have lost a sense of meaning or purpose. We begin to ask ourselves, “What is my life all about? Why do I do what I do?” There is widespread confusion in our culture with regard to morality and truth. The Catholic Church offers a beacon of light that gives meaning to our existence and leads to eternal life if we persevere.

•Number 9: Because childhood memories surface.
Some people say childhood memories of feeling connected to God surface in later life. We begin to ask ourselves, “Is it possible to recapture that simplicity of faith? Can I ever really believe that God is watching out for me?” The secularization of our society leads people away from the spiritual side of themselves. The Catholic Church offers BOTH religious and mystical experiences that feed the heart, the mind, the body and the soul AS WELL AS an array of active lay ministries that interface and interact with the secular world in order to make it a holier world to live in.

•Number 8: Because we made mistakes.
Some of us become burdened with the weight of accumulated sin. We want to get rid of the guilt of having hurt others. We begin to ask ourselves, “Will God ever forgive me? Is there any way I can start over with a clean slate?” You can always tell God that you're sorry, but through the Sacrament of Reconciliation you have a complete assurance of God's forgiveness. In addition, you are reconciled not only with God but with all the members in the Church, the Body of Christ (CCC 1440) and given the grace to start again with that new slate.

•Number 7: Because we need to forgive others.
Sometimes we hold on to anger and resentment toward individuals who have hurt us deeply. Maybe it was a family member or friend. Perhaps it was someone, (a sister or a priest), or something in the Church. “Will God ever forgive me?” Our modern culture condones and encourages anger and revenge. But hatred and bitterness are spiritual cancers that eat at the heart of a person. The Catholic Church provides the opportunity to seek God's help in forgiving others, even when the other person does not ask for forgiveness or does not deserve it. The ability to forgive is a gift that opens a person's heart more fully to God's love and peace.

•Number 6: Because we want to be healed.
Some of us carry deep spiritual wounds. We struggle with anger at God over bad things that happen–a terminal illness, a debilitating injury, a broken relationship, mental or emotional problems, an act of violence against an innocent person, an unexplainable accident, some natural disaster, the death of a loved one or some other deep disappointment. The Catholic Church cannot change these situations or explain why they happened. But there are people in the Church who can assist in the process of spiritual healing and help you get on with your life.

•Number 5: Because the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and grace.
Many of us who leave the Catholic Church are blessed by the experience of worshiping for awhile in various Christian denominations. But some people come back when they realize that Catholicism has the fullness of truth and grace. The Catholic Church was not founded by a single reformer or historical movement. It is not fragmented by individual interpretations of Scripture. There are thousands of Christian denominations, but only one Catholic Church. This Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit and protected from teaching error on issues of faith and morals from generation to generation for some two thousand years, as Our Lord Jesus promised: (foretold Isaiah 22:15-25) Matt 16:13-20; Matthew 18:15-18 (in this verse the word is church, not community); 1 Tim 3:15.

•Number 4: Because we want our children to have a faith foundation.
Some of us return to the Catholic Church because we recognize that raising children in a culture that promotes "doing your own thing" can lead to disaster. Children need to experience the spiritual dimensions of life. They need a structured system of belief and a firm moral foundation that goes beyond human logic and reasoning. We return because we want a solid foundation upon which our children can build their lives.

•Number 3: Because we want to be part of a faith community.
Many of us seek a sense of belonging. But community is more than just friendly people, good sermons and interesting activities. A Catholic Christian community is a group of people who gather around the person of Jesus Christ to worship God and live in the light of the Holy Spirit. Catholics come together at Mass, in the Sacraments and in parish activities to pray, to celebrate joys, to mourn losses, to serve others, to provide support and to receive strength for daily life. A Catholic parish offers all of this - and much more - to people who recognize the importance of walking with others toward union with God.

•Number 2: Because we want to help other people.
There are lots of opportunities within the secular world to volunteer. What's missing is the spiritual dimension that service within the Catholic Church provides. It's more than just a "feel good" activity. It's part of the "great commandment" (See Mark 12:28) to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. In reaching out to others, Catholic volunteers become instruments of God's love. The Catholic Church offers opportunities to touch the lives of people at home or around the world.

•Number 1: Because we hunger for the Eucharist.
[The Eucharist is the number one reason that people come back to the Church.]
Many people come back to the Catholic Church because they feel an intense longing for the Eucharist. Sometimes it happens at a wedding, a funeral, a baptism, a First Communion or a Confirmation. Sometimes it happens when people are alone or facing difficulties in life. They describe it as a deep hunger for the spiritual nourishment that comes when they receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This hunger for the Eucharist triggers a recognition of the presence of Christ in other sacraments, which draws them even more deeply into the practice of their faith. It is, without exception, the number one reason that people come back to the Catholic Church.

Most people discover that coming back to the Church is not an event as much as it is a process that involves a little pain, a little laughter, some thinking, some prayer, some discernment and a lot of letting go. “My actual return to full participation in a parish took about three years after I felt the first longing,” one person admitted.

And what do we get in return? The Catholic Church offers union with Jesus Christ:

◦in the Scripture
◦in prayer
◦in the community of others
◦in the Eucharist
◦and in the other sacraments.
It offers spiritual support in good times and bad. It offers divine wisdom which is thousands of years old from people just like YOU who lived in each and every century throughout Christian history: 33AD, 100AD, 800AD, 1000AD, 1300AD, 1964AD and 2005AD. It offers meaning and purpose in this life and the promise of eternal life with Him after death for those who persevere to the end.

You'll know you are home when you begin to feel a deep sense of peace.

My personal side note: For those (families, husbands, wives, etc.) who have left the Church OR non-Catholic Christians who have ruled out becoming a Catholic due to the recent problems in our Church, I want to share the following.

We do have problems, but using the crisis in the Church as an excuse for not being a practicing Catholic or, for non-Catholic Christians, not becoming a Catholic, is no excuse. We are and will always be a Church of saints and sinners. Through the Eucharist, where we REALLY partake in Divine Nature, Our Lord molds us in maturity and, if needed, pulls the grudges we have been holding in our hearts for years from our soul. We have to work with Him in prayer though, not run away.

Let's hope and pray that over the next few years the divinely appointed leaders of our Church will take a serious look [accompanied by serious actions] at the spiritual life and environment of Catholic seminaries in the United States, from assessing and evaluating rectors, seminary professors, vocational directors and sisters who are employed there.

Though the mass media tends to paint the problems in our Church with a broad brush and never in a positive light, remember, there are many holy priests who carry out their vocation in silence and ARE truly holy witnesses of Jesus. (These are the priests you'll NEVER see on the 6 P.M. evening news.) Just as Jesus was rejected by the world, so will the Church He founded and true followers of that Church be rejected.

Within the past seven years, a study on sexual abuse within churches was done based on an incident/church population.

Guess which Church had the lowest incident of sexual abuse? You guessed it: The Catholic Church.

Are you going to hear that from your local news media?